We associate proper dental hygiene with the teeth and the gums. Although this is certainly true, there are other conditions that will warrant the advice of a professional.
Some of these can be associated with nearby soft tissues such as the tongue and the palate (the roof of the mouth). Even seemingly minor issues may present problems if left unchecked, so it pays to err on the side of caution.
One scenario involves a yellow roof of the mouth. What might cause this type of discolouration, are there any additional symptoms to note and what treatment options might be offered? Each of these subjects will be examined in a bit more detail immediately below.
What are the Primary Causes of a Yellow Roof of the Mouth?
The medical term for this condition is known as “yellow oral mucosal entities”. There are actually a host of different causes. These will be determined by a dentist or by your primary care physician. Let’s take a few moments to briefly summarise each.
Inadequate Oral Hygiene Care
The vast majority cases of a yellow roof of the mouth involve poor oral hygiene. This leads to an accumulation of bacteria and in some instances, the tone of your soft tissues can change. Other indications may include bad breath, pain when biting down and bleeding gums.
Dry mouth is known as xerostomia. One issue is that saliva can quickly evaporate, causing bacteria to accumulate. Breathing through your mouth during sleep as well as other conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea can cause a dry mouth.
Bacterial or Viral Infections
Oral thrush is one common bacterial infection that causes a buildup of yeast. Yeast has been associated with yellow or white patches. Although oral thrush is not considered a serious condition, complications may arise if it spreads to other areas of the body. So, be sure to consult with a dentist.
While common, small ulcers known as canker sores can sometimes lead to a discolouration. The good news is that the majority will resolve themselves without the need for any type of medical intervention. If these sores persist for more than two weeks, schedule an appointment with your physician or dentist. Finally, oral herpes (HSV-1) infections can sometimes impact the soft palate. In some cases, yellow pustules or sores may appear. Other typical sensations before a herpes outbreak include a sensation of itching or tingling.
Some types of medication may temporarily change the colour of your soft palate. Substances containing bismuth subsalicylate are particularly notable here (such as those used to treat the symptoms associated with an upset stomach). There are even instances when the tongue may develop a blackish hue.
Certain Types of Mouthwash
Mouthwashes containing hydrogen peroxide (an oxidiser) can also cause your palate to appear yellow. Once again, this tends to be a temporary condition. Switching mouthwashes will generally resolve the issue.
There are many oral health risks associated with cigarette smoke. Not only can it increase your chances of developing oral thrush and a black tongue, but tobacco may also lead to a yellow palate. This is yet another reason why quitting sooner as opposed to later is always a good idea!
Perhaps the most concerning cause is a condition known as jaundice. When the liver ceases to function properly, a substance known as bilirubin can accumulate throughout the body.
Yellow skin and sclera (the whites of the eyes) will often be affected. In the event of elevated levels of bilirubin in the bloodstream, the palate of your mouth may also change colour. It is always crucial to speak with a doctor if you suspect that jaundice could be a factor.
We should also point out that a yellow palate might occur alongside additional (and sometimes seemingly unrelated) symptoms). For instance, leukoplakia can cause white and yellow patches on the palate. As this may sometimes be a precursor to oral cancer, a professional diagnosis is warranted.
In the event that yellow and red spots appear, this could indicate a condition known as hand, foot and mouth disease. This illness can normally be effectively treated with antiviral medications.
There are also times when oral thrush can spread to the esophagus; leading to esophageal thrush and pharyngitis. Pharyngitis and strep throat have been known to cause the palate to develop a yellowish hue.
What are Your Treatment Options?
Determining the correct course of treatment will always depend upon discovering the root causes of a yellow palate. For example, certain medications can be used to address viral or bacterial infections. Lifestyle changes are likewise powerful tools within your arsenal. Here are some practical suggestions:
- Quit smoking cigarettes or using pipe tobacco.
- Adopt the proper brushing and flossing techniques.
- Do not use mouthwashes that contain oxidising agents.
- Try to breathe through your nose.
Drinking plenty of water on a daily basis — and embracing a balanced diet — are additional strategies that are likely to improve your symptoms over time.
Having said this, a yellow palate may still indicate the presence of more serious medical conditions such as jaundice or leukoplakia. These will always require a professional diagnosis, enabling you to effectively rule out other potential factors.
While a yellow roof of the mouth may be aesthetically unpleasant, there are many ways in which this condition can be tackled.
Do any of the symptoms described above sound familiar? Do you know someone who has been complaining about their appearance or feel of their palate? If so, please feel free to forward this article or to speak with a medical professional.